"If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities" --Maya Angelou, Poems

Friday, October 30, 2015


A couple weeks ago, I had a pleasant surprise, and a month before book release made it even more special. One of my father’s former patients from his dental practice of decades ago found and read a story I wrote in back in 2006, A Lucky Man, a precursor to my novel. The piece was awarded honorable mention for nonfiction in the annual contest for the Preservation Foundation.

This patient of my dad posted the story on a Facebook page, “I grew up in Northboro, Massachusetts.” Click on the highlighted link to view the post, which generated a storm of memories and testimonials from my dad’s patients, amazingly, 25 years after he retired! My family and I are touched over the praise and heartfelt thanks. And none of his patients knew of my dad’s journey from a village in Puerto Rico to his dental practice in Massachusetts. Every one of them was astounded to learn about his story and his struggles. One thing they shared: they all miss their favorite dentist.

I was his dental assistant during the summers of the latter part of high school and college in the late 70s and early 80s and the comments don’t surprise me. One patient wrote how he sent his assistant to pick her up for an appointment when she was in terrible pain and I remember Dad driving a patient to see a oral surgeon in Worcester, Mass, when the man didn’t own a car. My father did some revolutionary procedures in his practice. He made hypnosis tapes for people to listen to help them stop smoking. We plugged in a padded, heated massage pad for the back of the dental chair, and I brought in my turntable and played classical and folk music for patients to listen to with headphones. Pachelbel and Judy Collins were my favorites. Dad employed some eastern medicine: he placed a cotton ball on some patients’ earlobes with a close pin to stimulate the dental analgesia point. After working in Puerto Rico, he opened his practice in Northborough in 1959 and told patients, “You are now part of my family!”  He treated whole families, witnessing children grow up and treating their children. He made house calls and when someone couldn’t pay, he bartered for services, such as landscaping. When he retired in 1990, many of his patents cried. He was truly a “family dentist”.  

Thank you, Kathy Wallace Boyd, for sharing a wonderful tribute.

Ramón León in dental school, 1953.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


I’d like to examine two figures of speech that personally have a great deal of meaning for me and tie in well together.

The first is: Don't judge a book by its cover. But do people? Yes! I am thrilled to post this beautiful still-life image that will be used for my book cover. Would it catch your eye?
Without giving away too much of my novel’s plot, all the elements are directly from the story: the “portions” of lottery tickets with the winning number, the old photo of my Abuela Chepa, the healer and curandera of the novel next to the photo of my father, the protagonist, and his sister, Lila, taken in 1928, the antique handkerchief with the letter “R” and even the seven wheat pennies, with the date of the inciting incident, 1944. On an almost eerie note, the pocket watch belonged to my maternal grandfather, and hasn’t worked in thirty years, until the day of the photo shoot. The hands started moving again. I’m not overly superstitious, but I swear it’s true.

And what else do I think of when I see this image? The traditional African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This book is my “baby” and I’d like to thank everyone who helped with the cover, which is in the design phase with Floricanto Press now! Many thanks to the talented photographer, Pete Rezac, for shooting the cover image and my head shots back in March. And to Gay Jardine, my beautiful friend and designer who helped arrange the images so artfully. A big thanks to Olga Colburn who provided props, the pennies, antique lace and handkerchief from Grandma Ruth. I’m hugely grateful for the incomparable Carol Purroy who is my “go to” person for editing and book design and was the force behind the cover. And who would see the cover without my website and the fantastic assistance of webdesigner Evelyn Fassett? Lastly, to my daughter Elena Friedman, who helped with just about everything!

And to the talented authors who wrote blurbs for the back of my book and whose work I admire: David Sundstrand, Désirée Zamorano, and Alex Espinoza, I am honored to have your praise and support!

Please weigh in and share your favorite books and favorite covers. It really does take a village to raise a child!